Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Anticipation

As I sit in my living room right now and look out on the back yard, my mind is filled with wonder. Wonder that God has beautifully allowed ice to form on the trees, so that the snow that followed would perfectly sit on each branch and allow His beauty to be reflected in creation. I stand in awe of how creative and majestic God is and how He wanted to give His children beauty.

But the beauty didn't start in an ice storm, or the snow that followed. The beauty started over 2000 years ago when an angel appeared to a nervous teenage girl and told her she was going to give birth to a very special baby. The beauty came as her fiancĂ© heard the story and accepted that his first born son wouldn't be his son, but the son of God sent to save the world, sent to save him. The brilliance of the beauty became brighter and fuller as the story played out. A tiny child born in a stable. A king whose throne was a manger. That is the beauty that I truly stand in awe of.

My mind and heart focus in on Mary. What was this she thinking and feeling? Did she know that the baby that she would hold in her arms would be the same man that out stretched His arms to save the world? Did she know that the tiny hands and feet that she kissed as she counted each finger and each toe, would one day have nails driven through them? What was she feeling? What did she anticipate?

Each day my heart and body experiences many different emotions. I usually wake up and lay in bed dreaming of what my life will look like in two weeks. When I get the courage to get up, I get excited about hearing the laughter of the children and the joy of the staff. I look forward to running from house to house meeting all the new children and hugging all the ones that I already know. I look forward to the stillness of evenings on the porch with a guitar and the brilliant stars that are so bright and beautiful. But then at some point in the day, I think about what I have to do in order to experience those things. Saying goodbye to family and dear friends who mean so much to me. Saying goodbye to clean water and warm showers. Saying goodbye to the freedom of getting in my car and going to a store and finding exactly what I want. But as my heart races and my eyes fill with tears, I remember the feelings. The feeling of a child's fingers wrapped tight around mine. The feeling of a child's hug. The sound of children yelling for me and running to me knowing that within my embrace is hope. My heart then remembers that as hard as it is to say goodbye to home, I have another home that is waiting for me.

I wonder if Mary felt that anticipation. Anticipation for a child that she knew was special. Anticipation for a whole new chapter in her life. Did her heart race? Did she experience fears and joys? Did she dream?

Today as I sit in my warm house looking over the perfect Christmas landscape, I pray that everyone around the world will have moments when they know their life was worth more than a young mother's dreams for her son.

Merry Christmas friends. May you feel God's warmth and love wrap around you today just like Jesus' hands wrapped around Mary's fingers and held her tight.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Honest Conversations

I always have been pretty open with my nephews and nieces about what I do in Africa. They do not need to know the specifics, but they know that their auntie goes to Africa to help kids who don't have an auntie. Following the calling God has placed on my part, means my family must sacrifice their time with me. My munchkins (as I call my youngest 2 nephews and niece) are realizing that their auntie will be leaving them soon. In their eye, this means there will be no more Starbucks dates, Tulip Time traditions and sleep overs where they decided everything we do. They love looking at photos and hearing stories about "auntie's kids."

Yesterday I had conversations with my nephews that made my heart happy, because I feel they understand that everyone in the world needs friends, but also made my heart sad, because I understand how much they value my time with them.

Conversation with Jake (age 8)
Jake: "Auntie, are you speaking about Beautiful Gate any time before you leave?"
Me: "No bud, I am done, so I can spend time with you guys."
Jake: "Oh. (pause) I really like listening to you talk about the kids. I want to go some time, so I can be their friend. I think it is wrong that people are mean to kids with brown skin. Everyone needs to have a friend."
Me: "Me too Jake."
Jake: "At school I try to be friends with everyone, no matter if they are different from me or not."
Me: (choking back tears) "Great job Buddy."
Jake: "Can you pick me up from school on Friday?
Me: "I will see."
Jake: "Good. I like it when you do that."

Conversation with Brayden (age 6)
Brayden: "Auntie, why do you always have to go away?"
Me: "Well, Bubba there are kids in Africa who need an auntie, and I go and be their auntie."
Brayden: "But I want you to be my auntie."
Me: "I will always be your auntie. No matter where I live, I will always be your auntie."
Brayden: "I don't like it when you are far away. It makes me sad."
Me: "I am sorry, Bubba. I miss you very much when I am gone. No matter where I am I love you so much."
Brayden: "Can I sit on your lap whenever you are home? I like it when we snuggle."
Me: (insert tears) "Brayden, you can always sit on my lap."
Brayden: "Good. I love you. Can I have a candy cane?" (insert a huge hug and a candy cane. I am sucker for whatever they want.)

Each day I pray that being obedient to God's plan, allows others to see more of Him. My munchkins teach me so much about valuing the people who are in your life. I am soaking up every second I can be with them before I go.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Daily Bread

This month I have been working on a fun project. I am writing a 30 day devotional tool for teams to use before they get to Beautiful Gate. I enjoy it, because it allows me to spend time in the Word, as well as other books I enjoy reading. Not only am I helping teams prepare, but I feel it is helping me prepare as well.

Here is day 13...

Day 13: Daily Bread

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry”
(John 6:35)

Hunger is both a physical reaction to the absence of food, but also a spiritual reaction to the absence of God. In Lesotho we see people who need food. Their bodies are small. Their bones poke through the layers of clothes they wear to give them warmth. Their eyes tell the story of a body that is hungry for anything to eat, even trash from someone’s yard. They go to bed each night with the echoes of their growling stomach ringing in their ears.
When was the last time you were extremely hungry?

Has there ever been a time in your life, where you had to go without food for a long period of time, because you had none?

The hard thing is, not many of us can say this has ever happened. But as hard as that is to face, there is a deeper hunger, not only in Lesotho, but around the world.
People are hungry for Jesus.
Food will fill their bellies, but it is God who will fill their souls. Each day we face, we must face it with the attitude that it is the Lord who will fill us with all we stand in need of. At the end of the day, it is Him who we want to be full on.
It is God who we should be waking up craving.
Jesus said, that he was the bread of life. He came so that the world would not hunger anymore. There are many times in life in which we try to out plan God. We write out our lists, make our agendas and get what we need.
We stock up for tomorrow.

But what about today?

God wants us to live for today, to desire only what we need for today. People around the world crave food. We see it in Lesotho. They praise God for providing food for each meal. They party when God gives them enough to provide a very simple meal to their families and friends.
Do we celebrate when God gives us what we need each day or do we hoard the extras and keep them for ourselves?

Pray today that God will prepare your heart, mind and your body to live in a world of “today.” Pray for the millions of people around this world that go to bed physically hungry, but also for the people who are spiritually hungry and have not yet discovered that Jesus Christ was sent to this earth to be their daily bread.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lists...Goals

One Month...

I leave in Lesotho in ONE MONTH!!!!

My heart is so full of so many emotions. To be honest, I am not even sure how to write this blog post, because my mind is all over the place, so I make lists. I have...

a personal to-do list
a work to-do list
an email list
a shopping list
a wish list
a meet with these people list

I love lists. They allow me to feel accomplished when things get down. Without these lists, I just sit at my computer and stalk people on Facebook, because I am too overwhelmed to do anything else.

Last month I made another list. I sat down and wrote out my Beautiful Gate goals for 2014. It felt so good to sit, pray and seek out what God desires to use me for. I am excited about the goal list, because woven throughout each goal is a bigger desire to know God more, to serve God more and to embrace the crazy adventure He has planned for me. I am so humbled that this is the journey God has me on. I am overwhelmed that He is using me to reach out to His people and simply live life with them. It is a journey that I would not have chosen, but one that I am so glad to be on.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me, "what is next for you?" For most of my life, I have had a "next." Whatever job I was in, I always though about the next step, the next role I could work up to, the next path. Right now, I do not have a next!! I have no idea what I would do instead of Beautiful Gate. I thought that would scare me, but it really brings me so much peace. I feel that Beautiful Gate is right where God wants me, because right now I am depending on Him for EVERYTHING. Each list gets accomplished by His strength. Each goal is made with Him in mind. Each thought is about how I can make Him more fully known.

Lists are great, when they allow you to focus on the present, instead of the next. God is in the present. He is our "Daily Bread."

He is our ultimate goal!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Needs...

I am feeling pretty anxious when I think that 48 days from today I will be back on a plane and headed to Lesotho for another 6 months. I am so excited to see the children and staff, run on the playground with the older kids, snuggle with a baby for an afternoon, and sit and chat with staff members at BG. But the thought of having to start saying goodbye to people I love and will miss here is pretty hard. God has blessed me with great people in my life and you all make it hard to say goodbye to.

A few of you have been asking me, other than personal support, what are some needs that you have. I decided to be bold and make 3 requests on the blog. If anyone would like to help either by providing the whole gift or part of it, please email me at christina.terpstra@gmail.com.

Need 1
I need a place to store my car from January 6 to July 2. Does anyone have extra space in a garage, barn or building where I could park it? I will have storage insurance on it?

Need 2
I would love to have the book "There is a Monster at the End of This Book." It is a children's story by Sesame Street about Grover. Silly request I know, but I will use it for devotions with teams as well as with the staff and children

Need 3
This one is a big one, but it will hopefully bless not only me, but other volunteers as well. Currently BG has a 12 string guitar, that someone donated. It is a great guitar, but not one that you can just pick up and play. I would love to have a 6 string guitar at BG that I could use with the staff, children and other volunteers. This guitar would stay at BG, so that other volunteers could use it. I can purchase one in South Africa, so that I won't have to travel with it to Lesotho. The cost of the guitar in South Africa is $400.

Like I said, if you would like to help with any of these needs, please send me an email.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reputation

How many of us had our parents say, "Remember who you are" as you left the house? Reputation is a big thing. We all want to be known for doing great things. I don't think any of us want to be known for always making mistakes or for always coming in last place. We want to do great things.

Christians are no different. How many of us want to do big things for the Kingdom of God? How many of us are okay if we are known to only serve ourselves and the things that are inwardly focused? How many of us praise God on Sunday, but live differently the rest of the week? I don't think many of us want to be known as people who only did things that made themselves feel good and only served out of guilt instead of a deeper desire to fully embrace the life that God wants us to have. But how many of us do the later instead of the former?

A lot of people look at my life and say that I am inspirational or radical or that they look up to me. I am going to be pretty honest here, I don't feel like any of those things and believe me, no one should ever look up to me. When I read about the disciples who dropped their nets and followed Jesus without saying goodbye to their family, that is radical. When I read about the many times Paul was imprisoned for sharing the gospel, and yet still praised God because of it, I see someone who is radical. The truth is, I am human. I mess up. I sin. I am not inspirational. At the end of the day, I pray that I am obedient to what God calls me to do. I pray that I embrace the story that God has written for me, not because I want to be known as great, but because I want others to know the Great I AM. That my friends is not radical, it is being obedient to what God calls us to do. He wants us to reach out to the poor, the widow, the orphan. He wants us to serve our neighbor, and love them no matter what their life looks like. "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40). Loving others is how God wants us to live. It is the reputation He wants us to have.

I saw a picture last week that hurt my heart. This photo was a map of the world and instead of the name of each country, it contained the countries reputation.

 
If you zoom in and see Lesotho, there is one word...MORTALITY. Lesotho is known for death. Lesotho is known for people living short lives. Extreme poverty paired with extreme disease is the reputation of Lesotho. My heart sank. Yes Lesotho does have those and thus is full of morality, but to me Lesotho has so much more. Lesotho has people who will kill their best animal for dinner, knowing someone special is coming to their house. Lesotho is full of people who embrace the life God has for them and live it with joy and celebration. Lesotho is full of children who want what every child wants, to play, have fun and be loved.
 
When we see ourselves as the world sees us, it can be very eye opening. To live your life with the world's reputation is hard. I don't want to be known as someone who is on stage speaking and raising money. I want to be known as a child of the King of kings who was obedient to Him. After a presentation, I don't want others to remember me, but to instead walk away knowing they were in the presence of God. I desire to know Him more, so that He can be more fully known.
 
So many of us (me included) measure ourselves, our worth and our reputation against someone else. We desire the life someone else has, the things they have, the family they have. We measure our self worth against the human flesh. I am so guilty of this!!! As David Platt said, "We need to return with urgency to a biblical gospel, because the cost of not doing so is great for our lives, our families, our churches and the world around us." If we continue to measure ourselves against others, instead of what the gospel says, we will never measure up. We will always think our lives are not worthy of doing anything great. But if we look at our life purely based upon the Word of God, we will see that the Great I AM calls us HIS. If Lesotho only looks at what the world thinks of them, they will only see morality. But if they see themselves as God sees them, they will see life.
 
Friends, I want you all to know, that I desire to do the will of God. I want to be known as His. I want my reputation to become invisible so that He can become the most visible thing ever. Please join me in prayer for our hearts to align with God's heart and then act on what He asks you to do. Please join me in praying that we as His children will only base our reputation on what He thinks of us.
 
If any of you are reading this and want to know more about the Great I AM and the plan and purpose He has for your life, please email me at christina.terpstra@gmail.com. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall in Michigan

Fall in Michigan is one of my most favorite things on this planet.  Sunday I drove to Chicago to surprise a former volunteer at BG.  The drive was so beautiful.  The highway was lined with trees of green, red, yellow and ORANGE. It was such a peaceful drive just me and God.  The Geurinks and I met up in Chicago and Anita and I had a great overslept visit with Paige who was at BG for 8 months last year.  We had a great time together updating about each others lives and talking about BG.  The drive home was even better than the drive there, because it was filled with conversations about life between Anita and I.  After this summer, we have figured out that we are really good road trip partners. :)

Last night I had the opportunity to share BG with people at Drenthe CRC in Zeeland, MI.  I served as the Director of Student Ministries at Drenthe from July 1999 to January 2001.  It was fun seeing familiar faces and updating them as to where God has placed me.  It is weird for me to think how long ago I was at Drenthe and everything that God has done since then.  To put it into perspective, the high school seniors were 4 years old when I was at Drenthe and had no idea who I was.  My life and faith journey have grown immensely since 1999.  God has stretched my heart and outlook on a lot of different issues.  He has made me crave His Word and allowed me to reach out to children who some feel are not worth more than a discarded candy wrapper. He is so good!!

I can't believe how fast my time has flow by.  Before I know it, it will be January 6 and I will be getting on a plane and heading back to Africa.  I am so ready to see the children and staff again.  I had lunch yesterday with two volunteers that just got back from Lesotho.  It was so good to hear about the children's lives and the fun stories of what they are doing.  It definitely sparked in me a desire to want to run onto BG's campus and hug every single child and staff member.

My calendar has been so full since being home.  To give you an example, after speaking at Drenthe last night, I was able to book another speaking engagement at a church in Holland.  It has been such an honor sharing about BG to so many new people.  Because my calendar has been so full and I need to get prepared for Africa again, I will be taking the month of December off to spend time with my family and friends.  I want to invest in them, because they have done so much to invest in me. 

If you are still desiring a BG presentation, or meeting with me, please contact me soon so we can book something before December 1. 

Tumelo...Tsepo...Lerato
Faith...Hope...Love

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hidden Treasures

My trip to Florida has been full of hidden treasures.  I will be very honest with all of you and let you know the night before I left for Florida, I did not want to go.  I was having a pity party for myself.  I wanted to stay in Michigan and be with my family and friends.  I wanted to be able to enjoy the space I live in, instead of staying in someone's guest room.  I now know why I felt this way, Satan did not want me to be in Florida.

I arrived last week in Sarasota and was able to make some potential contacts there.  It was fun to share Beautiful Gate with people who did not know anything about it.  I pray that the relationship with those I met with will grow into partners in ministry.

Thursday I drove from Sarasota to Gainesville.  I love a good road trip, so I enjoyed being in the car alone and the down time it brought.  I knew that Gainesville was going to be full of appointments, so the car ride was a time for me to turn the radio on and get pumped up for what would happen.  I figured it would be an easy 6 days and I would be ready to fly back home after everything was said and done.  I was wrong.  During the last six days I have found some pretty sweet hidden treasures in Gainesville and because of that, I am sad that I am leaving tomorrow.

Here are a few of the treasures...

On Saturday I went to a 3 year old's birthday party.  The birthday girl was excited for the pirate party her grandmother had planned.  Part of the party included a hunt for buried treasure.  The treasure was presented to me as a gift for Beautiful Gate.  Yesterday I cashed in over $200 worth of coins that were in a plastic bag.  God is so good!

Throughout this week, I have presented to many different groups.  With each presentation, I pray that I don't loose the excitement of sharing stories of the children of Beautiful Gate.  With each presentation, God has grown in me the desire to make sure I am continuing to share the stories.  When I stand in front of a group of people and I watch the light bulbs go off and see them becoming affected by God's story, I know I did my job.  I am amazed at how many people have already stepped up to the plate and are supporting Beautiful Gate before I have even left town.  Last night when I asked if there were any questions to the group I was speaking to, they just starting brainstorming out loud how they were going to share Beautiful Gate with others.  At that point, I just quietly sat back in my chair and let the Spirit take over.  God is so good!

I am staying with some pretty cool people and when I say pretty cool, I mean amazing.  Some times, it is hard living in other people's houses.  You never want to do anything or not to something that could offend your hosts.  This week, I don't have that problem.  I have had great conversations out on the front porch with people that understand thinking outside of the box.  I have had conversations with people that are putting their faith in action in ways that I would have never even thought of in regards to Beautiful Gate.  I have met two ladies that I pray our relationship and conversations continue to grow, because being with them gives me glimpses of Heaven.  I never thought that when I left Gainesville, I would be leaving friends, but that is what has happened.  God has given me friends here that I enjoy being with and talking to.  He has blessed me with a family that loves the children of Beautiful Gate and for some strange reason, me as well.  God is good!

Thank you Florida for showing me what southern hospitality is all about.  Thank you Meringer and Heiberg families for hosting me.  Thank you to the numerous people that attended presentations and had your heart opened up to Lesotho.  Thank you to people who have caught the vision so much, that they wanted to attend multiple presentations, just to hear the stories.  Thank you to my new friends who hold a special place in my heart.  Our journeys are not the same, but our desire to love children is.  May God continue to bless you and shine His face upon you.  May He overfill you with His amazing hope, so that you can go out and share His hope to the world around you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

On the Road Again

Tuesday morning I will be heading to Florida for 8 days.  I am humbled that God will be using me to introduce people to Beautiful Gate.  Everyone I will be talking to (with the exception of the contact people) have no idea what Beautiful Gate is and the great things God is doing there.  I pray that God's plan of love, hope and future for His children shines through the presentations.

May He be glorified.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Taste and See

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."
Psalm 34:8
The Lord is so good!!!  Over the last week, I have tasted and saw His goodness.  I have seen the heart of God as it radiates out of His people.  I have seen ways in which the fatherless are being cared for and it...is...so...GOOD!!! 
Last week Saturday, I went to the Grand Rapids airport and welcomed home a family that just picked up their new son from Ethiopia.  As they walked down the terminal, tears ran down my face.  Their journey is so real to me.  It didn't matter that the child was not from Beautiful Gate.  I didn't matter that I had never physically met this child before.  What did matter, was that a child has a family to love and care for them.  The family's journey is all about the truth and grace of God.  They are boldly stepping out and surrendering their abilities and plans to God, so that He can use them to do His KINGDOM work.  They have tasted and seen the goodness of our Lord.
Last week Sunday, I attended a church in Grand Rapids, to celebrate the baptism of a former daughter of Beautiful Gate.  She is now a daughter of a family that is caring, loving and guiding her through life.  She has parents, siblings and many other family members who are daily giving God control, so that they can all do His KINGDOM work.  They have tasted and seen the goodness of our Lord.
Yesterday at my home church, a charge was given to the congregation.  We are celebrating 50 years of God's faithfulness.  The congregation was challenged to raise $50,000 to donate to 2 of the ministries they support, one of them being Beautiful Gate.  God has blessed Haven and they are striving to do His KINGDOM work.  They have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord.
This week is a special week at Holland Christian High School.  For their "HOME"coming, they are not going to just to the normal home coming routine of spirit days, football games and a dance.  The student body is raising money through the activities of the week, to furnish the Maroon House at Beautiful Gate.  This house is currently being built by funds that were raised through the Holland Christian family and will serve as a dormitory for short term mission teams.  Today I went to sit in on chapel and hear Mike Verkaik, a teacher at HC, share his personal journey with Beautiful Gate.  God planted a seed in him, that is taking root and spreading to through the HC campus.  They are striving to be bold and do God's KINGDOM work.  They have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord.
People of God, stop, hit the pause button of life and take refuge in God, for He is GOOD!!  His love will NEVER end.  His journey for you is prepared.  Don't just fly through it.  Take time to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The next few weeks for me will be full of opportunities to share God's goodness through His story of grace at Beautiful Gate.  Please pray for health, for God's words and for the people He wants to be at the presentations.
Wednesday September 25 - Holland Christian High School Chapel, Holland MI
Tuesday October 1 to October 3 - Multiple Presentations in Sarasota, FL
Thursday October 3 to October 9 - Multiple Presenations in Gainesville, FL
Wednesday October 16 - Drenthe CRC, Zeeland MI

Friday, September 13, 2013

1 Year

It has been one year since I said goodbye to my dear friend Lindy.  One year and I still miss her so much.  Lindy and I had a fun relationship, that was full of encouragement, support and a lot of laughter.  There were many times throughout this year that I would pick up my phone and desire to call or text her, many times that I opened my email and longed to see her name bolded in the inbox, many times in which I wanted to her voice saying "Hey Terparoni!" 

She was one of my biggest cheerleaders when it came to working for Beautiful Gate.  In 2010, she emailed me at least once every week.  While I was home, she always challenged me to stay focused and live boldly.  During our last conversation together, she grabbed my face, looked into my eyes and said, "No matter where you go, my friend, I have your back."  God gave me many glimpses of Lindy throughout this year and I rejoice for those.  On my way to BG, from the airport in January, I saw a sign and smiled.  The sign said, "Lindy's B&B."  Before she passed away she asked me to play the song 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.  In February, when we lost 3 babies in 4 days, Bryan and Anita approached me and asked if I had heard Redman's new song, 10,000 Reasons and would I be willing to play it for the staff.  All I could do was smile and say, "I hear you friend.  Take care of my babies."  This past week I stayed at a friend's cottage to be still.  While driving up, I had a feeling my turn was coming, so I started being intentional about looking at the road signs.  The first sign I saw, "Lindy Rd."  Once again I just smiled.  No matter what side of the world I am on, she has got my back.  When I got home in July, her dad wrapped his arms around me and said, "Lindy isn't hear to say this, so I will.  She loved you very much Terp.  She, her mom and I are so proud of you."  Needless to say we both had a good cry in the back of church.

Lindy, my friend, I miss you so much but I know that you are right where you need to be, so I can't be jealous that you are not here.  You have lived a full year cancer free, healthy and whole, sitting at the feet of your maker worshipping Him.  Your life on earth is still a testimony to your faith in God.  Thank you for being in my corner and always making me smile.  Thank you for "showing up" along the road this past year.  Thank you for teaching me what it means to be bold with my faith.  You knew the urgency that we all need to have about spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.  I will not stop, my friend.  I will not stop sharing the joy, the grace and the hope that only comes through a relationship with Him.  I love you friend.  Thanks for having my back.

I want to encourage all of you to celebrate Lindy this weekend the way she would want you to.  Serve others, live life to the full and worship God with everything you have.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Trip Reflections

On August 2, my friends (and directors of BG) the Geurinks and I headed out on a 3 week long trip to promote BG.  I was excited for the journey.  I couldn't sleep much the night before we left, because I was so ready to just get out on the road and share what God has done at BG.  There are so many stories to share, that I don't know where to begin.  Instead of telling you all of them, here are a few highlights...

1. Road trips are awesome.  Driving to Topeka and then to Denver, allowed for a lot of fun conversation.  I feel as though I know the Bryan and Anita a lot more because of the talks we had.  I am so blessed to be able to work with them as well as be friends with them.  They are my brother and sister.  Many times in our journey we all looked at each other and said, "Like it or not you are stuck with me for the rest of you life."

2. Adoptive parents are so amazing.  Hearing their stories of how long they had to wait and how the process went for them, was good to hear.  We at BG see and experience the other side of adoption.  We have waiting children that need homes and love.  All too often I forget the other side of adoption, which are the waiting families, who have an empty space in their home and love to give.  My eyes and heart were opened up to their stories and the way some of them choose to have a family through adoption, not because of infertility, but because they knew there were many children around the word that need a family.

3. People are so giving.  From the very first day on the trip, we were given great places to stay in.  So many people opened up their homes to us and their lives to us.  The late night conversations, the meals and the games, proved to me that there are many people in the BG family and many people who are fighting for the fatherless children around the world.  To the Brower's, Willet's, Wilde's, Domonkos', Kozak's, Baker's and Spykstra's, thank you so much for making the trip incredible.  Your gifts and time were so appreciative.  Thank you for conversations full of joy and encouragement.

4. To Sun Rise, CrossRidge, CrossPoint, The River, Ontario Christian, Capistrano Valley, The Grove and any other school church or organization I may have missed.  Thank you for taking time to hear about BG and for being willing to take the next step in partnering with us.  The road ahead will be a great adventure full of God's plan.  Hang on, we are in this together.

5. To all the individuals that met with us throughout our journey to hear about BG.  Thank you for taking time to stand out above the "norm" and doing something to make a difference in the world.

6. To the Geurinks...Thank you for being such good travel partners.  I couldn't have done this journey without you.  Your joy, encouragement and love were a blessing.  Remember you are stuck with me no matter if you like it or not.  To infinity and beyond. :)

Thank you to all who made the trip possible.  It was a great 3 weeks full of God's promises.  Many times throughout the trip the only I could do was smile.  God is so good.  Everything I have faced in life has led me up to this point, so that God could use me for His good.  I know that I am right where He wants me to be.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

California!!

I have made it to the last stop in the trip.  California is beautiful.  I am looking forward to a great week of sharing BG with many people as well as some fun stops along the way.  The Geurinks and I have been separated.  They are staying with the Baker family who have led trips to BG multiple times with APU.  I am staying with my friends the Spykstras.

My prayer this week is that God opens doors for people to embrace His story at Beautiful Gate.

Oh Canada!!

I know it has been a few days since a photo or a post, but that is because Canadians know how to have a good time. :)  In the past six days I have hiked through beautiful landscapes, played at lake, gone to a water park, biked around Stanley Park in Vancouver, been reunited with a number of children that were very special to me along the journey and had many conversations with some really cool people.  I also have spoken at Sunrise Agency, CrossRidge Church, had a meeting with the directors of The Mohale Project and participated in a 5K run/walk (that actually was a 6K).

When Bryan and Anita asked me to come on this trip so that they could introduce me to the supporters of BG in Canada and California, I was very excited.  We called it the "Triangle Trip" because our route of Colorado, Canada and California for a triangle.  After spending the past 6 days in Canada, the "Triangle Trip" has new meaning to me.

Through all my trips to and from BG, I have fallen in love with the staff and the children.  I feel as though they are a part of who I am and will always have a place in my heart.  This week, I have discovered the other aspect of BG and that is the adoptive families.  They are my heroes.  Talking and laughing with them this week has shown me how special they are.  They are parenting to the extreme.  They are welcoming children into their lives as their own and loving them as if they never were apart from each other.  They face struggles, like any other family does, but they face them with a determination to overcome.  It is as if their child or children's desire to stay alive, through whatever life they lived before joining their family, is the desire they family has as well.  Some of the people I have met this week have chosen to have a family through adoption, not because of a medical condition, but because they believe it is right.  I applaud them for going against the status quo and loving their children with the love every parent should have for their child, no matter how they became a family.

My Triangle...
~ The children at BG live to be innocent no matter what conditions they have faced.
~ The staff at BG work to keep the children healthy and help them grow happy and strong.
~ The families strive to find ways to welcome these children into their lives, so that they can become all that God created them to be.

To every one that I have met this week, THANK YOU for showing me how beautiful Vancouver is.  It is beautiful not because of the mountains, rivers and lakes, but because of the people in it.

One of the cool families I had the privilege of getting to know this week.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 8

During my 4 month stay at BG in 2010, I was able to help welcome 2 pretty cool kids into the BG family.  Tonight I got to hang out with them again.  I really have nothing else to say.


Love these two and their parents.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 7

I have so many highlights from today.  I had multiple times today that I had to remind myself that this is my job.  This morning I went hiking to one of the most beautiful places I have every seen.  Taking time to enjoy Vancouver with families who have adopted from BG is a priceless gift.  Seeing their lives and the love of a family for the children that have a special place in my heart is something I don't think I will ever be able to describe in words.





Tonight Bryan and Anita and I presented to a room of people that are in the process of adopting to Lesotho.  The room contained people who are on different parts of the journey.  It was so cool to sit back and hear the questions they asked us as well as the other parents on the presentation panel.  At the end of the night a couple came up and told me the name of their child whom they were just matched with.  What a special moments it was for me to be able to tell them about their child.

My heart is overflowing with the goodness of God that I have experienced today.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 6

We have made it to Canada!!!

I have to say that with each day of this trip, I am finding new ways as to why I love this job.  Meeting and hanging out with families who have adopted from BG is an amazing thing.  I have always felt that God gave me a huge gift through in the children and staff at BG, but tonight I am realizing the other aspect of the gift, which are the families.

Tomorrow the Geurinks and I will be touring and presenting at the Canadian adoption agency.  It will give us an opportunity to see the facility, meet the staff as well as the people who are in the process of adopting from Lesotho.  I can't wait to meet everyone. 

Photos of the day...
 
This photo was actually taken on Day 5, but I needed to include it.
 

Flying over the mountains


 
I am enjoying hanging out with these four as they play Settlers.
 

Blog shout out to Candise Wilde!!!!!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Prayer Request and Day 5 pictures

Yesterday was one of those days in which I needed a lot of grace.  My attitude was not good.  My conversations with others were focused on me.  Pretty much I was struggling and I didn't know why.  Those that were around me were very gracious towards even though my actions were not focused on the body of Christ.  I would like to think that everyone has days like this, but maybe I am wrong. 

Yesterday was a day to relax.  I didn't have any meetings or presentations to do.  One would think that I would be very excited about this, but I wasn't...I was agitated.  Nothing seemed right.  Simple jokes that normally would make me laugh stressed me out.  It truly felt that something came and over took my emotions and I wasn't me.

Today I had a meeting in Denver, which is about an hour and a half away from where the Geurinks and I are staying.  When I got in the car, I prayed.  I asked God for some type of explanation as to why yesterday was so bad.  I pleaded for an answer, because I didn't even like myself yesterday, so I can only imagine how much I frustrated those around me.  After some time of just speaking out loud, I have come to the realization, that I no longer know how to relax.  In fact the thought of having a day with nothing on my agenda brings up a lot of anxiety.  I know that God desires us to have Sabbath days and take time to relax.  I know that my calendar sometimes has very full weeks and sometimes does not, so I should not feel guilty for taking a day off.  I know that because of everything I have experienced, my emotions are not the best.  I also know that I always have a hard time turn off the processor on my brain.  Yesterday was a day in which God designed for me to rest in Him, and I blew it...BIG TIME!!!  All I could do was think about the stuff that I could do to prepare myself for the next week.  When I thought about just sitting down and doing nothing, I got extremely anxious and that is when my attitude and demeanor changed.  Friends, I am struggling.  I know I need to relax, but I physically and emotionally can't.  Please pray that God will give me peace when I have days to relax so that God's desires of a healthy body, mind and spirit can occur.  Also pray for those around me, because if I can't get along with myself, I am sure they are struggling with it as well. 

Now for what you really want... DAY 5 PICTURES...

My meeting in Denver today was with Michelle Pitts.  Michelle contact me in in March of 2012, when Bryan was in Michigan on his fundraising tour.  Michelle has a great story of how she became connected with BG.  Her heart wants to help the children and staff and it shows with the things she does.  Recently she put a jar out on her desk for her co workers to put their loose change in.  Today she handed me the jar.  She had raised $26.22, by simply putting a jar on her desk.  What a great thing.  Thank you Michelle and co-workers for your service to BG.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 4

Today was a pretty low key day.  I took some time to get ready for the presentations coming up as well as read almost a whole book.  I recommend "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman.  It is a great read.

Here are a few photos of the day...

Fun on a playground
 


Peanut Butter Bacon shakes...No thank you!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day 3

This morning we said goodbye to the Coopers and headed to Colorado.  It was a fun day of driving and getting to know each other.  One of the reasons I love road trips so much is because your time on the road is full of conversation.  Today we talked about a lot of things, laughed a lot and enjoyed each other.

Day 3 Photos...
 
Anita has MAD skills.  She cut up 2 apples with a plastic knife and made 6 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without making a mess or spilling anything at 75 mph. 



Best 50 cents ever spent



The mountains of Colorado

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 2

The Geurinks and I had a great day today with Josh and Jaclyn Cooper.  The Coopers just moved to Topeka, Kansas from Zeeland to start a church.  It was great hearing about their past 2 weeks of learning another culture and lifestyle in Topeka.  Also Josh, Bryan and I drove past the Westboro Baptist Church.  I had so many emotions driving past it.  Please pray for the Coopers as they reach out to the community around them.  It is estimated that over 60% of Topeka do not believe in God.

Photos of the day...

Building IKEA furniture
 




Nerf Gun War!
 


Chicken and Waffle Chips...


EWWW



Friday, August 2, 2013

Triangle Trip Day 1

Depending on Internet access, I will try to post photos from each day.

Day 1

Driving over the Mississippi River

 
Front seat photos
 

Back seat photos

 
This is hard to see, but this truck was full of "inedible fat: not for human consumption."

 
Dinner at Chick fil A, a first for everyone. 


Today my Coast 3 shirt and I traveled through
Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas!

Coast 3 Partnership Fund Rasier.

Hey Friends,
 
I am very excited to announce a partnership for the month of August to raise money for Beautiful Gate Lesotho.  If you're in the Holland area maybe you've heard about a new business called Coast 3.  It was started by some good friends of mine from Haven Church.  In a nutshell, they offer all kinds of outdoor adventure equipment for rent and also have a very cool monthly membership program that is really starting to take off.  I have had the opportunity to hang out at the store and the staff and equipment is top notch.  Coast 3 not only provides great opportunities for people to go and enjoy the outdoors, but they provide opportunities for families to come together, put away all the things that distract them from each other and make memories that will last a lifetime. 

The promotion they are offering is that for every person, couple, or family that signs up for a membership in the month of August, they will donate the first month's membership dues to Beautiful Gate.  If we could get 100 people to take advantage of this great deal we'd raise between $5,000 - $10,000!  It's a win win win: we support a new local business, you get a great deal on outdoor gear, and together we support the children at Beautiful Gate!
 
For more information on how to take advantage of the year round membership and in turn support Beautiful Gate Click here.  By getting outside and enjoying time with your family, you are helping us feed, clothe, care for and bring hope to the children and staff at Beautiful Gate Lesotho.

Thank you so much for giving to the lives of the children at Beautiful Gate Lesotho. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"The Triangle Trip"

For months now Bryan, Anita and I have been talking about the "triangle trip."  Tomorrow the journey begins!!!  Friday morning we drive to Topeka, Kansas and are there until Sunday.  Sunday we drive to Denver, Colorado and are there until Wednesday.  Wednesday we fly to Vancouver, Canada and we are there until the following Tuesday.  We then fly to California and are there for a week before flying back to Colorado.  Once in Colorado, we separate and I fly back to Michigan and the Geurinks go on a much needed vacation (because anyone who has spent that much time with me in close corridors deserves a vacation). :) I am excited about this trip for a number of reasons...

1) We begin the journey as a road trip. I LOVE ROAD TRIPS!!!!!! I love driving for long periods of time, seeing different parts of the country and all the fun road trip activities that happen along the journey.

2) We will be talking about the children and staff at BG. I don't think I need to elaborate anymore.

3) I will be spending time with the Geurinks.  This produces a lot of fun emotions and I am sure will also produce some pretty cool memories.

4) In Vancouver, we get to spend time with some of pretty awesome children who once lived at BG.  I can't wait to hang out with these families and just experience life together.

5) We will be able to see some friends in California that I have met along my BG journey.

6) We will be talking about the children and staff at BG. (I know I said this already, but it is an honor to represent them to the world.)

7) I am sure God is going to bless us more than we can ever imagine through the interactions with each other and with the people we meet.

Please pray that this trip is full of God's mercies.  We know they are new EVERY morning and it will be a joy to explain the way God has shown His mercy to BG.  Also pray that we have opportunities to talk to the right people.  God knows who needs to be a part of the BG family, wither through adoption, financial support or prayer support and by volunteering.  We pray that He directs our trip and makes it very clear who we need to speak to.

Keep checking the blog and Facebook.  We are going to try and post at least 1 picture everyday of our highlights on the journey.  Thank you for all that have made this trip possible!!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Life Lately

I have really been enjoying my time back at home.  My days are filled with meeting with supporters of BG and of me.  I love being able to sit down and share with people the stories that I have been able to be a part of.  I am so thankful for the journey the God has me on.  I pray it is His story and His love that people see and experience whenever I am with them.

I know I have said this before,  but I truly feel like I live in 2 different places.  My heart is happy to be here and see those I missed, but my mind is always wondering what is going on in Lesotho.  For the most part, I am doing okay with it.  A few days ago my nephew Jake asked me if we could go and do something, just him, me and his siblings.  It was funny to me how he said that he wanted to be with me without mom and dad or grandpa and grandma.  We had a fun afternoon together and I soaked up all the cuddles and love that they each gave me.  It is moments like this that Make me glad to be back.  But then after dropping them off, I got an email from a volunteer at BG.  It was a good email that contained 3 precious pictures of the little guy at BG that I love so much.  My heart rejoiced in seeing him smile and laughing, but I was also very sad.  Does he remember me? Does he remember the many sleepless nights he and I had together?  Does he remember the moments I would work with him on getting him to pull himself up and stand while holding my hands?  You see friends, living in 2 different places is good, because I get to see those I love on both sides of the world as well as serve God by sharing His love to those I meet.  But living on 2 different sides of the world is also hard, because I feel like I am never fully present in either spot.  My heart and my mind are forever separated.

Life lately is good.  I have been able to sit and reflect a lot about my time in Lesotho and prepare myself for sharing BG with those I meet.  On August 2, the Geurinks and I take off for a 3 week speaking tour out west.  I know God is going before me and the Geurinks and paving the way for us to share His broken heart for the beautiful children at BG.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Absent

How does someone love for the other side of the world? 

This is a question that people have asked me over the past few weeks, and one that I have asked myself a lot the past 2 days.  I am enjoying my time at home.  I love meeting with people and sharing my stories and watching them experience the love that I have felt of the past six months.  I love spending time getting things ready to make the presentations I will do memorable and heartfelt.  Through it all there is one question that I have a hard time answering.  How do I love from over here?

Of course, there is the financial love that people send that is a very important part of BG's ministry.  Without your gifts, our kids would not have food, water, caregivers, houses, nurses, and the list goes on and on.  Without your sacrifice, they would not be alive.  Your donations are providing them life.  But what if you want to do more than just write a check.  How do you show love then?

Yesterday I got an email from a volunteer at BG telling me that "my" little guy is back in the hospital with pneumonia...again.  It physically hurt to read the email.  I wanted to jump on a plane and so I could snuggle him in my arms.  I wanted to some how, some way give him love.  I wanted to hear his coos and look into his strong eyes that shine with his strong determination to fight what ever comes his way.  But I couldn't do any of those things.  All I could do was...

PRAY.

I prayed for his little body that has gone through so much.
I prayed for our loyal staff member who has been with him 24/7 for the last month. 
I prayed for the hospital staff.
I prayed for his healing.
I prayed.

Through my praying, I loved.  I shed tears as I pleaded with God to bring His healing power to the little guys body.  I wrestled with the "why again" feeling and kept praying.  Today as I served in the community, I prayed.  My mind was focused on his care and his little body.  While praying, I let go of control (because I can't control anything) and I surrendered.  While praying I humbled myself, knowing my abilities are not going to make this little guy better, but I do know the One who can.  While praying, I loved.

Friends, not everyone is called to get on a plane and fly to Africa.  (In fact there are some people from Africa who have been called to fly to America and spread God's news to the people here.)  There is , however, one thing that we are all called to do and that is love.  By loving, we are surrendering to God's will and accepting His outcome.  By loving we are letting go of us and grabbing onto God.

I can't fix this little guy, but I can love.  I may not be able to physically be by his side, but everywhere I go, I can pray. 

Where in your life is God calling you to love?
Where in your life is God calling you to give?
Where in your life is God calling you to pray?
Where is your life is God calling you to let go of the control and let Him lead?

Friday, July 12, 2013

America

I have been back in Michigan for a week now and I have to say there are moments I feel completely lost.  Overall, I am enjoying my time here and loving the opportunities I have had to share my experience with others.  Seeing family and friends who show genuine love for my returning has been awesome.  Being able to worship at Haven on Sunday was an indescribable experience.  As I stood in front of the church and read from the Bible, I looked up and saw the faces of people who have supported me, encouraged me and wrapped their arms around me in love.  I have never been a person that has been uncomfortable speaking in large groups of people, but on Sunday morning when I looked up at the faces filled with love, my heart began to race and tears filled my eyes.  In that moment, I was home.

People have been asking me how the transition is going, and for the most part it is okay.  I do have moments, when I get very anxious and overwhelmed by everything around me and just want to become a hermit for awhile, but I am praying through those moments and God is giving me strength.  In Lesotho, when you are having a conversation with someone, a lot of times you hold their hand to show that you are connected to them and focused on what they are saying.  There have been moments in Michigan when I have wanted to just hold someone's hand so I could feel that connection again.  Another thing I miss are the 73 pairs of hands that would reach up to me and want to be held.  I am discovering that I love being around people that have children, just to hear their laughter and little voices.

One huge blessing I have right now is the place I live.  Two very dear friends of mine demolished their basement and built me a space that is full of love.  When you open the door to go down to it you are greeted by the beautiful eyes of "my" little guy as his picture is hanging on the wall.  There are also pictures of other children that are hanging around the room and every time I look at them, I am motivated to keep on sharing their stories.  Their voices need to be heard.  The space is so safe, and calming.  In the moments when I feel overcome by the world, I go down there and my whole body relaxes.  I can never begin to express of special this space is and how great it feels to still live in community with people who understand the call God places on your live. 

Overall, it is good to be back.  Of course there are things that get overwhelming, but seeing those around me that love me and cheer me on everyday is a great way to build me up right before I start traveling and speaking.  I am ready for the next step of the journey.  I want to share the stories of the children and staff and show the world how beautiful Beautiful Gate is.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Home

I made it home Tuesday evening after 36 hours of travel. Each second was worth it when I think about the last 6 months at BG.  Currently I am relaxing and moving into a new apartment. (Relaxing and moving are a hard combination to do, but I can figure it out.)

Thank you all for your prayers. I will continue to blog along the journey, so please keep following.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reflection

A few weeks ago, I went away with some other missionaries in Lesotho and spent some time at the Indian Ocean.  It was great to feel warmth compared to the Lesotho where most nights I can see my breath inside my bedroom.  I was able to spend some quiet time by the ocean and reflect upon the my time in Lesotho.  When I stood in the ocean I felt very small.  Looking out at what seem to be the never reachable horizon, I realized how small I am in comparison to the world.  My body is nothing but a speck of sand when you think of how big the world is and then go even bigger and think about how big you are in comparison to the universe. 

 
 
The great thing is that in my smallness, God still has a big plan for me.  As I stood looking out into the ocean, I thought about the things I have faced, both joys and challenges.  I thought about the people I have met and the relationships I have formed.  I thought about the family I have been blessed with at BG and how I hope I can reflect them well when I get back to the Untied States.  I then got overwhelmed with the task at hand.  I am in charge of making sure BG doesn't have to worry about finances.  I am striving to make sure that there will never be a month in which we have to go without. Those thoughts built up some major anxiety and I doubt the fact that I was the right person for the job.  How can I do anything in this big world?
 
Then I looked down...
 
 
 
I don't have to concur the world, I just need to impact the ground in which I am standing.  I need to remember my "tumelo" or faith in God that brought me to each point along this journey.  God doesn't call me to change the whole world, He calls me to be faithful to the places that He puts me.  I still get overwhelmed when I think about the funds that I need to raise for BG, but I know that through every step God is saying to me "Be still and know I am God."  God has this journey planned out.  He knows each step I take and He knows each person who will hear His story through me.  It is He who will raise the funds for BG, not me.
 
I also looked at my feet and reflected on my time in Lesotho.  I pray that wherever I walked, people did not see me, but God in me.  I pray that every child I held or person I hugged felt the love of God wrapped around them.  This journey has been one of extreme joys and extreme sorrow, I hope that through it all, people looked beyond my fleshly emotions and saw my heart. 
 
Tomorrow I say "see you later" to BG.  I will be back in January to do this all over again.  It is hard to say goodbye to this place, knowing that the next time I step back here, there will be new children and some of my old ones will be gone.  The constant "hellos and goodbyes" are hard, but I pray that through each of them, people experienced God's refreshing presence.  I pray that with each step, each hug and each hand held, I reflect God in a way that made others feel loved.
 
 
Monday I take off out of Maseru and will be back in Michigan Tuesday afternoon.  Traveling back home is a long 30 hour journey, including one 18 hour flight.  Please pray that everything goes smoothly and that if a hang up happens, I can reflect Christ instead of getting frustrated.
 
Lord willing, my next blog post will be from Michigan. 

 
 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Field Trip Day

I was excited about taking a field trip on Tuesday with the BG social worker.  Our plan was to go to a two villages and then check out a care center that hold children 4 years old to 13 years old.  The drive out to the first village was beautiful.  Because BG is in the capital city, sometimes my heart forgets the depravity of the statistics of the country I live in.  Driving through the mountains reminds me of the staggering facts of that 40% of the country lives on less than $1 a day.  The poverty that was before my eyes as we drove made me grateful for the perks I have at BG, such as electricity, running water (even though it is unsafe to drink) and Internet. 

On our way to the first village we picked up a social worker from the department of social work.  We had been told of a 2 month old baby that was born 3 months premature.  The mother had died at birth and the father had passed away before the child was born, so the child's grandfather was the only living relative to care for them.  We drove through some pretty bumpy roads to get to the village, and then when the road stopped, we made our own.  Praise God for 4x4's!  When we reached the grandfather's residence, he was not there.  We spent some time just walking around and yelling for him, but there was no reply.  After a while, we drove to the next house to talk to some women who happened to be grinding their corn by hand with rocks.  They told us that grandfather found a local female in the village to help him care for the child.  The women we spoke with were concerned, because they felt the women was not fit to take care of a child and that due to the child's premature birth, it was very small and sick.  The women took us to another place in the village to hopefully find the child, but we were unsuccessful.  My heart broke as we drove away without the baby.  I pray that wherever the child is and whoever is caring for the child they are okay.  I did not want to drive down the mountain with empty arms, but there was no choice.  During harvest time, people can leave their house for days to work in the fields.  I pray this child and care giver can get the help they need to allow the child to grow and get better.  Without electricity and running water, I fear what living conditions the child is in.

The second village we went to, also had roads that stopped, so we once again made our own.  Along the way we kept asking local herd boys to direct us to the chief.  Every other herd boy pointed us in a different direction.  At first it was comical, but after a while, it was frustrating, because we needed the chief's stamp on some documents so that one of the children at BG can be placed for adoption.  Finally we found an older shepherd who informed us that since the white flag was flying over the village, the chief was making and drinking his home brew beer and we were invited to join.  We joked as we hoped the chief would have a clear enough mind to stamp our paper work.  Once we found the chief, he said he would stamp the documents, but his stamp was at his house and we needed to drive there. So with the chief  in our truck (smelling of his home brew) off we went to his house.  He stamped the documents and we were on our way.

After spending some time at the post office working on birth certificates of our kids from that district, we were off to visit the other care center.  I heard rumors about the way this center was run and as we drove, I prayed for protection against anything we would experience.  The center had a beautiful facility, but the way the children were being raised was in my mind extremely wrong.  I won't go into detail about the center, but I will say that it effected me, the social worker and our driver in a big way.  I was grateful for our conversations on the way home to talk about what we saw.  I was also grateful for the classes I have taken lately to help me explain some of the things we experienced.

Life in Lesotho is hard, but I am a little jealous of it.  Being up in the mountains, I saw the simplicity of community.  There was no electricity, which meant no computers or television, so in order to communicate with someone, you had to talk to them face to face.  The children entertained themselves with very creative playing and everyone had a friend.  Rocks were being used for soccer goals and a big stick was the prize possession for a little boy.  The women were all gathered around one house, cleaning and grinding the corn and the men we were told were out in the fields.  Mountain living is living in community.  It is like the first church who shared what they had and ate together.  Living in community with other missionaries is the same.  Every one's house is open for conversation and sharing.  The community I am in, is one where I don't have to explain things because everyone knows what life is like and how some days you feel like you are advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and other days you feel defeated. 

I am grateful for community living and pray I can continue it once I am back in Michigan.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Prayer Update

I want to thank you all for praying for the little guy at BG.  Your prayers are being heard and he is growing.  It is amazing how some weight can change a person.  He looks healthier and loves to sit on your lap and just talk.  Of course he has a long way to go, but we are rejoicing that he is growing.  He is still on the feeding tube and with time we are hoping to wean him off of it.

Your Wheel Barrel

I have spent a lot of time sitting behind my house the past few weeks.  It is a great quiet place to reflect about the journey I have been on, but more importantly it gets a lot of sunlight, so it is warm. :)  While sitting there, a lot of people pass by with their wheel barrels.  A wheel barrel is a very important tool in Lesotho.  With it you can carry a lot of things including your water jugs.  Since the well is right by BG, most of the time the wheel barrels are full of any type of container that will hold water so it can be transported from the well to the person's house.  Today, there was a young man whose wheel barrel was very old and very well used.  It had a big bag of Maze Meal, some cabbages and 2 containers of water.  About 20 minutes after he walked past, he came back again, to get more water.  I thought about how easy it would be to just get a bigger wheel barrel, then he would not have to make so many trips.  But then I wondered if the wheel barrel was bigger could he handle the added weight it could carry.

In life we all have wheel barrels.  We put many things in our wheel barrels that we need and some that we don't.  As we journey through life, our wheel barrels may become very full and we may see someone next to us with a bigger wheel barrel and think how easy it may be for them, because their wheel barrel seems to be able to carry more.  Sometimes in our wheel barrels we put things that hold us back from getting all the fresh, living water that comes from God our Father.  Sometimes our pride, lust, jealousy and gluttony take up too much space and we don't get as much of the living water that we need.  When this happens, we become weak and find it hard to function.  Lesotho is high in altitude, and if you don't drink a lot of water, you will feel the effects of it.  Sometimes in life we loose sight of the fact that we need to fill our wheel barrels with the living water that will never run out and never cause us to feel faint.  We need to surrender the things that are in our wheel barrels that don't need to be there.  We need to focus only on our wheel barrel and the things that God desires for us to have in it. God sees each of our wheel barrels and wants to fill them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control.  Anything else that is in there is not from God.

Take some time today and look at your wheel barrel.  Does it seem that the journey is heavy?  Does it seem that the journey is too much to handle?  What is in your wheel barrel? Are there things that shouldn't be, if so get ride of them, because you are not experiencing the joy and the life that God has intended you to have.

"Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of" (John 10:6-10, The Message).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Growth

I have been thinking through this blog post since this afternoon.  Today was one of those days when I sat backed and thought "Man have I grown since coming to Lesotho!"  Sit back and hold on to the roller coaster ride of events.

This morning I got up early to take four children to the hospital for doctors appointments.  I used to be very nervous about these trips, now I know what to expect.  First, it will be a long day, so pack snacks and water.  Second, I will have some type of bodily fluid on me by the end of the day.  Today was a special day, because one of the children I was in charge of was "my" little guy that I have been caring for.  Unfortunately, he lost weight again and we are at a cross roads with what to do (more on that later).  After the appointments were done, I looked at my watch and was so excited about how "fast" the morning went.  I actually was going to get back to BG before noon, something that has never happened.  When we got to our car it wouldn't start.  The BG nurse that was with us, sent myself and the house mother along with the four children in a taxi, so the children could have their lunch (FYI, we left for the hospital at 7am, so the children were ready to be home).  The taxi ride was an adventure!  The house mother sat in the front and I sat in the back with all four children.  Let me describe the taxi...

Radio...missing.
Seat belts...missing.
Brakes...missing.
Doors...there, but not working well.

But it was a way to get back to BG, so we took it.  The first "humped zebra crossing" (speed bump) we hit the front passenger door opened and the house mother almost fell out.  I immediately put my free arm (the other one was holding "my" boy) over the three children sitting next to me.  My mind imagined hitting another bump and having the back door open and the children fall out, because there were no seat belts (there also are no car seats in Africa).  As we pulled out of the hospital, the driver stopped at a little road side shop to get lunch and cigarettes, so this delayed us 5 minutes.  As we were on our way, he realized he needed gas, so we stopped for that.  After getting gas, it took him maybe 5km to realize he forgot to get his change from the gas attendant, so back to the gas station we went.  While driving to BG, he spoke in Sesotho to the house mother and I was able to understand about every third word.  He looked back at me and told me he loved me very much.  I shocked him when I looked at him and said "thank you" in Sesotho.  He then told me that since I spoke Sesotho, he was going to marry me.  I told him (in English) that he needed to talk to my mother who was sitting next to him.  The house mother then looked at him and told him that if he was going to marry me, he needed to pay her 250 cattle, 100 sheep and 40 goats.  He said I was too expensive, but didn't have a problem yelling to people that we passed that he was driving his "white wife" around town.  He then made two more stops on the way to BG, for air time (cell phone minutes) and to chat with a friend (about his white wife).  We made it back to BG at 12:15 with a great memory!!!

After getting the children to their houses, I kept thinking about the morning and laughed at how none of the events seemed to upset me.  I am used to long waits at doctors appointments.  I am used to broken down cars.  I am used to crazy taxi rides.  In January, I probably would have been more upset, but now I see it as "normal."  Growth.

This afternoon, the nurses at BG started a feeding tube in "my" little guy.  I am glad we have the ability to do this at BG, so he doesn't have to go to the hospital again.  In January, seeing him with a tube out of his nose and both his hands wrapped up to prevent him from pulling out the tube, would have upset me, today I just held him in my arms and carried him around campus like there was nothing wrong.  After his first feeding, his body was not too excited, so there was diarrhea everywhere (refer to second lesson in hospital day adventures), so he and I was also covered in poop.  It didn't bother me at all, in fact I made sure he was completely cleaned up and started hand washing his clothes before I took care of myself.  Growth.

You see, it is hard for me to describe Lesotho to people.  I want to be able to tell you the cries of my heart, but I can't. I am at a loss for words when it comes to my emotions.  In 19 days I will board a plane and head back to Michigan.  If is wasn't for the excitement of seeing my family and friends, I might extend my stay in Lesotho.  The past few weeks, I have felt "normal" here.  Of course things still shake me, but I have a new confidence in approaching those situations, because I know that God has already approached them for me.  Of course there are moments when I can't control my emotions and it only takes 2 seconds for me to go from laughing to crying or vice versa, but that is life in Lesotho.  Life is unpredictable and you just need to deal with whatever comes your way.

Living in two very different places is going to be an interesting adventure.  I feel like I finally have the "secrets" of living in Lesotho down, and now it is time for me to head to America, where things seem scary, but I am sure that after 6 months there, Lesotho will seem scary again and American will see safe.  I have had some time the past week to really think about what I am anxious about when I think about home (Michigan).  I am excited to see everyone who mean so much to me and just sit back and relax.  I am excited to start traveling and introducing people to BG that have no idea where Lesotho is.  But, I am anxious about the questions people will ask, like "How are you?" or "How was your trip?"  It is hard to describe my last 5 months and honestly most days I do not know how I am doing, but I pray that through every conversation and through my time spent with those I love in the States, God will provide for me the words to use in explaining this journey to others.  He knows who is willing to listen to my processing heart and mind.  I also pray for patience for those listening that they will be able to hear what God has used me for and how He did great things in Lesotho through some great and not so great times.

Friends, please join me in praying for "my" little boy.  He is at BG, but like I said on a feeding tube.  We are praying that in a week's time, we can fatten him up and help him get stronger.  We need to go back to the hospital next week Wednesday to see if we made any progress.  He needs the family of God, praying for him!